Commission approves €9.5 million Belgian State aid scheme to facilitate restructuring of fishing fleet in the context of Brexit

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €9.5 million Belgian scheme to facilitate a restructuring of the fishing fleet affected by the effects of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

The aim of the scheme is to compensate Belgian-registered vessel owners for the permanent cessation of a limited number of fishing vessels from the active fleet. The aid will take the form of direct grants and be granted based on a competitive bidding procedure. The scheme will run until 31 December 2023.

The measure is planned to be financed under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, established to mitigate the economic and social impact of Brexit, subject to approval under the specific provisions governing funding from that instrument.

The Commission assessed the scheme under Article 107(3)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which allows Member States to support the development of certain economic activities or regions under certain conditions, and under the Guidelines for State aid in the fishery and aquaculture sector. The Commission found that the scheme facilitates the development of an economic activity and does not adversely affect trading conditions to an extent contrary to the common interest. On this basis, the Commission approved the Belgian scheme under EU State aid rules.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.108540 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.